Teaching babies to swim turns out to be more than just fun. According to new research, baby swimmers not only have better balance but they are also better at grasping at things than non-swimmers.
What’s more, this difference persists when babies who have been taught to swim still outperform their peers when they are five years old.
The research carried out by Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Brian Hopkins, a professor of psychology from Lancaster University, has shown that baby swimming is good for developing balance and movement in infants and young children.
The study involved comparing 19 baby swimmers against a control group of 19 children who had not participated in baby swimming. The only factor that separated baby swimmers from the control group was swimming. All other factors, such as the parents’ education, housing and economic status, were the same.
The baby swimmers had participated in swimming classes for two hours a week from the age of 2-3 months until they were about 7 months old. A typical session might involve helping the baby do a somersault on a floating mat, having the baby dive under water, jump from the pool edge, and balance on the hand of a parent while reaching to pick up floating objects.
At approximately age 5, both baby swimmers and the control group were tested with similar exercises. The exercises included walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball into a goal and catching a beanbag. The results were crystal clear, the researchers say.
“We saw very clearly that baby swimmers were the best in exercises that related to balance and the ability to reach for things,” says Sigmundsson.
Aquatic education experts describe children’s motor, cognitive, and emotional development during six stages, from newborn to preschool and how the stages relate to aquatic activity.
They also coach you on how to structure lessons and activities based on the stages of development.
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